Norwegian version

OsloMet to launch master’s degree programme in art therapy

Several people sit in a ring on the floor, bending over some colored sheets and leaves in autumn colors, located in the center of the ring.

“The department is excited to finally be able to offer a master’s degree programme in art therapy,” explains Liv Dahlin, Head of the Department of Art, Design and Drama at OsloMet.

Art therapy will be offered as a programme option alongside the existing master’s degree programmes at the department.  

“We want to give more people the opportunity to specialise in this important subject area. Currently, there are no master’s degree programmes in art therapy in any of the Nordic countries. This means that students have travelled abroad to other European countries in order to complete a master’s degree in art therapy,” she explains.

“We are incredibly proud of the study programme, which can help meet future needs in mental health care,” Dahlin notes.

Art therapy is an interdisciplinary profession that aims to prevent or ameliorate various psychosocial and health issues by using art as part of the therapeutic relationship. – Professor Mimmu Rankanen
Portrait of Mimmu.

An important addition

Art therapy employs creative work with images as a form of communication and the approach is used both to prevent ill health and promote mental and physical health.

“Art therapy is an interdisciplinary profession that aims to prevent or ameliorate various psychosocial and health issues by using art as part of the therapeutic relationship,” says Professor Mimmu Rankanen from the Department of Art, Design and Drama. Professor Rankanen holds the academic responsibility for the new programme option.

 “This makes art therapy an important addition to the more traditional social and healthcare interventions, and is suitable for people from different cultural backgrounds and in different age groups. In a time of many crises, art therapy represents a highly suitable method for working with trauma. It can also be applied in schools and special needs education.

“In art therapy, individuals or groups create art and reflect on the work in relation to their own lives. The process is managed by the art therapist, and this allows participants to feel safe to explore, understand and change various aspects of their lives, thereby improving their psychosocial health, wellbeing, or quality of life.

Currently, art therapy is most widespread in various forms of mental health services. There is an increased focus on drug-free therapy and community-based care.

“It is therefore important that we develop, use and research the impact of complementary treatment options such as art therapy,” Rankanen emphasises.

Art therapy is also used in the somatic health services and there is excellent research evidence from and experience of using art therapy at an international level, including as an adjunct to cancer treatment.

One person sticks some notes on a drawing hanging on a wooden board on the wall, while two others are paying attention.

Replaces one-year advanced programme in art therapy

At OsloMet, there is nearly 25 years of art therapy experience through further education in art therapy. This one year advanced programme in art therapy is now being replaced by the new master’s degree programme.

The art therapy programme option will be delivered as a part-time programme spanning three years and will be taught in English, but students will have the opportunity to complete their exams in a Scandinavian language.

The programme is research-based, and all the courses include practical training in art therapy methods.

“The art therapy programme has been designed for those with a deep interest in the therapeutic aspects of art processes and interaction with people, both in practice and in research,” Rankanen explains.

“Applicants should have an interest in studying and critically reflecting on their own and relational experiences and feelings associated with the art therapy process and its effects. Applicants should also be able to tolerate differences and accept incompleteness as part of the art therapeutic process of development and change.”

Six people sit in a semicircle on separate chairs. Everyone looks down the middle where there are colored sheets and autumn leaves.

First in the Nordic region

Rankanen looks forward to welcoming the first-year group next autumn.

“I am delighted that we are finally able to launch the first master’s degree programme in art therapy and contribute towards the establishment and development of research-based art therapy practices not only in Norway but in the Nordic region as a whole.”

“I am also looking forward to the opportunity to develop interdisciplinary art therapy research projects at OsloMet.

The new study programme has been in the planning for quite some time and the journey has, at times, been tortuous. However, this was not all negative,” according to Rankanen.

“The lengthy process allowed us to develop the contents of the art therapy courses together with international and Norwegian art therapists, educators and researchers.”

“It also enabled us to participate in highly inspiring interdisciplinary development processes and discussions internally at OsloMet, as well as between the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Technology, Art and Design.”

“In this way, we have succeeded in creating a well-functioning structure and fascinating content for the art therapy programme option.”

Portrait of Kristin og Mimmu.

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